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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

Today is V.I. Day

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whereas tremendous progress has been made toward a free, stable, democratic Iraq, such that what little remains of the postwar insurgency is unlikely to undermine the bold, fledgling attempt at a free society that is today steadily growing ever-hardier roots

Whereas it appears exceedingly unlikely that we will see any official public declaration of hard-won, at-long-last victory in this war — whether from our outgoing president, our incoming administration, the press, or any other public body

Whereas all those who have risked, and in many tragic cases lost, their lives in the worthy battle for a better future for Iraq will not otherwise receive the public recognition or the heroes’ welcome that they so deeply deserve

it is left to us to call this. Right here, right now.

Today I join with many others in observing November 22, 2008 as “Victory in Iraq (VI) Day”. The Iraq War is over. The United States, her stalwart coalition allies, and — most importantly of all — the Iraqi people, have won.

To be sure, many challenges await us on the road ahead, and much remains to be done to ensure that this victory is not squandered and will not have been won in vain, but what has been achieved thus far is every bit remarkable and worthy of recognition. We have much to be grateful for and to celebrate. Let today, VI Day, be the day that we joined together to acknowledge that, and to honor and thank the intrepid souls who have made this authentic and hopeful victory possible. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Victory in Iraq Day banner

My words feel hopelessly inadequate to convey the deep and abiding gratitude and admiration that I feel for all of the courageous individuals — in our own United States armed forces and those of our staunch and noble coalition allies, as well as among the Iraqi people themselves — who have risked everything in standing up to terror and intimidation and in demanding and securing for Iraq and its people the right to pursue a brighter future of their own choosing. Despite the best efforts of a brutal dictatorship determined to hold onto power at all costs, of a postwar insurgency assisted by scheming, opportunistic rival neighbor states and by an influx of jihadists hell-bent on establishing a totalitarian, fundamentalist caliphate and base of jihadist operations in the place where a free nation rightly ought to stand, and — most heartbreaking of all to me — despite the best efforts of many in the United States and across the West who impugned and vilified our intentions, who ascribed to our actions the basest of motives, who begged and shamed us not to fight, and did seemingly everything possible to undermine our will to see this thorough to a successful conclusion — despite all of that, Iraq today stands as a free and democratic nation. With all due respect and sincerity, I say to you: If that isn’t the epitome of audacious hope prevailing against a crushing opposition to the progress of civilization and human liberty, I think I may never see an adequate example in my lifetime.

There are many worthy and constructive discussions that can and should continue to be had about the conduct of the Iraq War and our entry into it. I intend to make time to write more on such topics in the future. But this — heretoday — is a recognition and celebration of what has been achieved at the costs that we have thus far borne, for those who are willing to acknowledge it.

My heartfelt and undying thanks go out to the U.S. and allied soldiers who have fought with unsurpassed honor, courage, and dedication in this difficult war, to the brave and devoted Iraqis who have risen to fight alongside them in the stand for a free and secure Iraq, and to all those who have lent support to their efforts. This day — and all those to come that have been made possible by your steadfast courage, risk, sacrifice, and confidence in the cause of Iraqi liberty — are yours. May you have the well-deserved gratitude of a deeply indebted world.

My previous post endeavoring to help to spread the word about VI Day is here. By all means, please go visit the VI Day page at ZombieTime that started it all, where you’ll find a well-supported discussion of the conditions for declaring victory, and links to many other participating blogs.

Update 11:47am Pacific TIme: Excerpts from but a few exceptional VI Day posts:

Who Is John Galt?: “Victory in Iraq Day–22 November 2008”

Blogger Zombie has taken upon itself to do what our current President should have done.

Declare Victory.

We have enforced the UN mandate. We have deposed, tried, and executed Saddam Hussein and brought justice to his henchm[e]n. We ended Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs. We have exposed the mass graves. We have made it possible for a representative government to form. We have made possible free and fair elections. We have trained new Iraqi security forces. We have sent untold terrorists to their virgins. Stores are open, girls are learning, there is a future.

War’s over. We, the supporters of liberty, won, and so did the Iraqi people. Our troops have done the impossible.

Does that mean Iraq is a perfect example of parliamentary democracy? Of course not. Name a war that we won where the immediate postwar situation was all smiles and sunshine. Iraq has a long way to go, but it now has a fighting chance to get there.

In a sane world, President Bush would be organizing tickertape parades, days of thanksgiving, etc. He won’t. Mr. Obama certainly won’t.

We need to do it for them.

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: “22 November will be forever remembered as Victory In Iraq Day”:

One last thing, and perhaps the most important one. PLEASE remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice not only for our country, but for a new nation; a free nation that finally has what was rightfully theirs. The Iraqis lived under a brutal dictator for over twenty years. He and his thugs are gone. those that remain have agreed to participate in rebuilding Iraq into a new, fresh democracy in the Middle East. Things are improving daily, and the violence from the animals is down considerably; almost to the point of barely being footnote worthy. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have done an outstanding job, and they deserve all the thanks and praise we can give them. And for those that did give all, no words — no deed — can convey how much we as Americans appreciate their valor and honor. To their families, I say we have a debt we can never repay, and we will miss your loved ones as much as you do.

Dog Opus Blog: “America for the Win”:

You may have noticed over the last half year or so that our largely ghoulish media’s mind-numbing obsession with lurid reportage from Iraq has ground to a jarring halt. Seriously, it’s conspicuous by its absence. Well, the reason, of course, is because we’ve won. Despite considerable efforts of cynicism, spite, and sometimes downright hatred from parties at home and abroad, our outstanding troops have resoundingly defeated the barbaric child-killing jihadi menace, and have secured an entire nation. They’ve performed magnificently, with consummate professionalism and honor. This is what American troops have always done. To the disgraceful few who rooted against them, this is a painful fact, but to me, it’s yet another opportunity to feel pride and to show appreciation for the people I look up to as heroes.

This warrants, at the very least, a day of recognition, don’t you think?

The Surfing Conservative: “Victory in Iraq Day - November 22, 2008”:

The Iraqi political paradigm has been shifted from authoritarian ru[l]e to multiparty democratic competition; Parliament, not the battlefield, is now the primary venue for political competition between the various ethnic and sectarian blocs.

neo-neocon: “Today is VI Day”:

In another world and time, this war would have been lauded as one of the least brutal in history, although it was fought against some of the most brutal of opponents—Saddam Hussein, the insurgents, and al Qaeda. But thanks to our strange reluctance to credit that there is any good that can come from the horror of a war—or to realistically analyze what victory there might look like—this particular success is being noted not with a bang but a whimper.

There will be no parades today, no crowds celebrating, and no exuberant sailors bending pretty girls backwards in a joyous embrace. But still, attention should be paid, and credit given.